7 April 2019
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
TORONTO, ON – From the highlight-reel tries and show-stopping tackles to the roar from the raucous, sell-out crowd, the first-ever professional rugby union match played in Canada was unquestionably full-value for fans, but a last-gasp try from the NOLA Gold dashed the Toronto Arrows’ hopes of securing a win in the club’s 2019 home opener on Sunday afternoon.
A sold-out crowd of 3,081 took in the match at York Alumni Stadium, and was treated to an engaging, back-and-forth affair that ultimately saw the visiting Gold steal a 35-31 win after NOLA lock Ignacio Dotti scored a try on the final play of the game.
Toronto enjoyed a dream start to life at home, with wing Dan Moor scoring less than a minute into the match. Outside centre Spencer Jones started the scoring play with a slicing run through NOLA’s defensive line, and after drawing defenders in, he sprung Moor with a deft pass.
The Arrows’ joy would be fleeting, as the top-seeded Gold wasted little time responding. Just minutes after Moor’s opening try, NOLA was awarded a penalty try and Arrows wing Avery Oitomen was sin-binned for what the referee deemed as a dangerous tackle in the corner. The Gold struck twice more with the man advantage, scoring back-to-back tries from fullback JP Eloff and outside centre Tristan Blewett to put the visitors up 21-7 after 13 minutes.
Urged on by home supporters, momentum began to swing back in Toronto’s favour, and the hosts were rewarded after fullback Gaston Mieres went over in the corner in the 25th minute.
New Orleans hooker Eric Howard added to the visitors’ lead when he barged across in the 31st minute, but the Arrows answered back just before the stroke of the halftime whistle. After Gold lock Kyle Baillie was issued a yellow card for a high tackle, Mieres scored his third try in two matches following a pinpoint long-distance pass from fly-half Sam Malcolm.
Toronto regained the lead after receiving early second-half tries from scrum-half Andrew Ferguson and prop Morgan Mitchell, putting the hosts ahead 31-28.
While the opening 55 minutes of the match featured a nine-try scoring spree, the remaining 25 minutes became a defensive showcase. The two sides traded possession until late in the match, when NOLA slowly advanced into Toronto territory to eventually score the winner at the death.
“We’re gutted after this one,” said Arrows Director of Rugby Chris Silverthorn. “To fall on the last play of the game is a result we’re all disappointed with, especially in front of our home fans. We had so many positives throughout the match, and to not take all five points leaves a bitter taste in our mouth when we know we should’ve done better.”
Sunday’s match marks the second time Toronto has fallen to NOLA by less than a one-try margin this year; the Arrows lost to the Gold 36-31 in the first week of the 2019 Major League Rugby season.
“While the loss stings, I was so impressed by the home crowd this afternoon,” added Silverthorn. “The turned out in droves, filled up the stands to the point where it was standing room only, and were loud and supportive from beginning to end. Today was a special day in Canadian rugby history, and we can’t wait to provide more of these hallmark days in the coming months and years.”
The double bonus-point defeat drops Toronto’s record to 4-5-0, though the expansion club remains in sixth position in league standings with 24 points. NOLA’s victory keeps the Louisiana outfit at the top of the table with a 7-2-0 record and 38 points.
The Arrows enter round 12 of the season with a home match against Austin Elite Rugby (0-9-0) on Sunday, Apr. 14. Match tickets can be purchased at torontoarrows.com/tickets.
Toronto Arrows Score Report
Tries: D. Moor (1), G. Mieres 2 (24, 39), A. Ferguson (45), M. Mitchell (52)
Conversions: S. Malcolm 3 (2, 40, 46)
NOLA Gold Score Report
Tries: Penalty Try (5), J.P. Eloff (11), T. Blewett (13), E. Howard (30), I. Dotti (79)
Conversions: J.P. Eloff 4 (12, 14, 31, 80)
Toronto Arrows Lineup vs. NOLA Gold
1. Rob Brouwer // Lindsay
2. Andrew Quattrin // Aurora Barbarians
3. Morgan Mitchell // Southland Stags (New Zealand)
4. Mike Sheppard // Stoney Creek Camels
5. Paul Ciulini // Aurora Barbarians
6. John Moonlight // Ajax Wanderers
7. Peter Milazzo // Toronto Scottish
8. Lucas Rumball (C) // Balmy Beach
9. Andrew Ferguson // Oakville Crusaders
10. Sam Malcolm // Manawatu Turbos (New Zealand)
11. Dan Moor (C) // Balmy Beach
12. Guiseppe du Toit // UVic Vikes
13. Spencer Jones // Hamilton Old Boys (New Zealand)
14. Avery Oitomen // Oakville Crusaders
15. Gaston Mieres // Lobos (Uruguay)
16. Steven Ng // Barrhaven Scottish
17. Tom Dolezel // London St. George’s
18. Cole Keith // Belleisle Rovers
19. Kolby Francis // Brantford Harlequins
20. Marcello Wainwright // Toronto Scottish
21. Jamie Mackenzie // Balmy Beach
22. Kainoa Lloyd // Mississauga Blues
23. Theo Sauder // UBC Thunderbirds
Vice President & General Manager: Mark Winokur
Director of Rugby: Chris Silverthorn
Coaches: Aaron Carpenter, Cory Hector, Peter Smith
Performance Analyst: Rodin Lozada
Team Physicians: Dr. Anthony Dixon, Dr. Chris Gallimore, Dr. John Gillis
Athletic Therapist: Perry Fan
About Toronto Arrows Rugby Club:
The Toronto Arrows Rugby Club is Canada’s first professional rugby union team.
Competing in Major League Rugby, the team is equipped to compete against top-tier North American club teams, providing emerging Canadian talent with enhanced and more frequent opportunities to hone their skills at an elite level.
For more information, visit https://torontoarrows.com/
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Header Photo Credit: Jeff Chan